A Good Clean Up


A couple of Christmases ago Becky gave me a little wallet of visiting cards for this blog. She knew I have a penchant for talking to people on my wanderings, and that, particularly if I had photographed them, they sometimes asked for the WordPress details. On these occasions I would fish around in my pockets, find, like David Jason’s Jack Frost, an old receipt or shopping list, write the details on the back, and hand it over. Becky gave me a more professional air. A few days ago, I handed my last card to Peter, who had stopped to ask directions which Jackie provided with the aid of an Ordnance Survey map.


Our daughter has sent me a pdf by e-mail, providing a sheet of ten cards. All that was required of me was to print the image and guillotine the cards. Becky made her selection from pictures on a variety of posts. Unbeknown to me, she has been noting prospective new ones for a further set when she gets a round tuit.

Among the debris on my desk was a little envelope containing two stray colour slides believed to have been lost until I found them a while ago. Today I decided to identify and scan them.

Derrick and Sam 5.81

The first one was easy. It was Sam and me in May 1981 on a visit to The Owl House garden. I haven’t been able to establish its location, but my recollection is somewhere near Tunbridge Wells. Perhaps my memory is playing tricks. (Overnight, I remembered. The garden is at Lamberhurst in Kent. It was there that I took the photograph I adapted for the drawing for the cover of the Family Service Unit annual report for 1980/1981)

Mum R and Becky 8.70

The ribbon in her hair identifies the baby in Jackie’s mother’s tender arms as Becky, sometime in August 1970, when she was about a week old. Mum Rivett was standing at the bottom of her garden of Westbrook, Shrewsbury Road, Beckenham. This is just half the image that required considerable retouching because the muck all over it meant a good clean up was in order. I have made our daughter a print.

This evening we dined on Jackie’s piquant cauliflower cheese; tangy smoked haddock; creamy mashed potato, carrots and swede; and crisp broccoli. I drank Cepa Lebrel reserva rioja 2012.

Play Of Light


On another beautifully sunny day we continued our recuperation indoors. Never mind, we could look out of the windows watching the light play about the garden.

I spent much of the afternoon retouching the scanned images of some rather speckled black and white negatives from friends Tony and Liz’s wedding in 1984. Sunlight was also dramatic on that day.

Cheri 1984

Apart from this photograph of Tony’s delightful stepdaughter, Cherie,

Becky 1984 1

I have chosen to post only my own family members, beginning with Becky. I was intrigued by the light playing around the room as we gathered for the ceremony.

Sam 1984 1

Does anyone have any ideas as to what Sam is thinking?

Jessica and Becky 1984

Jessica looks rather wistful here.

Jessica and Louisa 1984

She is holding Louisa, and they are soon having fun; while Becky, reflected in the background,

Cherie, Jessica, Louisa and Becky 1984

enjoys a conversation with Cherie.

Sam and Louisa 1984Sam 1984 3

The little ones soon ended up on the floor.

Louisa 1984 1

I can’t remember what Louisa had done to her head. Maybe she had butted a jam jar. It hasn’t permanently spoiled her beauty. (Becky has provided the answer in her comment below).

This evening, for our dinner, Jackie produced roast pork, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, crunchy carrots, broccoli and runner beans, with perfect, tasty gravy,

She Stoops To Conquer

Jackie lunched with her sisters yesterday. As is not that unusual this resulted in a printing project for me. She brought back three more photos of her parents.

Mum R and friend Sheila 1937 back tapeThe first was of her mother and her friend Sheila, the pairing who had featured in ‘A Statuesque Beauty’. My task today was far more difficult than the scanning and printing of the earlier photograph. Indeed, it was the most daunting challenge of this nature that I have, naturally most willingly, taken up. This time I was presented with a print of 8 x 5 centimetres, including the margin, in size. It was badly torn, ink stained, and taped up on the reverse. The tearing had effectively created holes in the print. Correction of all this requires careful application of the retouching tool.

As I understand it, the essence of retouching is that you are transferring pigmented pixels from neighbouring areas in order to mask blemishes. The missing sections are effectively blank paper, and beyond my skills to cover completely. This is what the original looks like:Mum R and friend Sheila 1937 original

And here is the result of my effort:Mum R and friend Sheila 1937

These two sixteen year olds were dressed in their outfits for their school presentation of Oliver Goldsmith’s comedy, ‘She Stoops to Conquer’.Don Rivett c1959 002Don Rivett c1959 001

Compared with this, scanning and printing a couple of photographs of Don Rivett c1959 was a piece of cake. From the little wallet in which these have been contained, they are the work of Penge Studios of 82 High Street, London S.E.20. That building is now occupied by a cycle shop.

Jackie’s father wears his uniform of the Kent branch of the Civil Defence Corps. Wikipedia has this to say about the organisation: ‘The Civil Defence Corps (CDC) was a civilian volunteer organisation established in Great Britain in 1949 to mobilise and take local control of the affected area in the aftermath of a major national emergency, principally envisaged as being a Cold War nuclear attack. By March 1956, the Civil Defence Corps had 330,000 personnel.[1] It was stood down in Great Britain in 1968, although two Civil Defence Corps still operate within the British Isles, namely the Isle of Man Civil Defence Corps and Civil Defence Ireland (Republic of Ireland).’

My favoured paper for making these particular 5″ x 7″ prints is Ilford Gallerie pearl. I only had one sheet left, so this afternoon Jackie drove us to Wessex Photographic in Ringwood, which is the nearest outlet where I have found it. They didn’t have any, so I bought some Canon Photo Paper Plus Glossy II, which is all they had in the size I wanted. As this is also the only place where I can be certain of finding my Series 8 inks, although I didn’t think I needed any, I bought a few spares. Almost as soon as I had begun printing, two of the inks were exhausted. One that I had just acquired was Cyan, and I hadn’t already got a spare. The Canon Pro 9000 printer uses 8 different inks, and, even if you are printing in black and white and have an active black ink, it will not work if there is just one colour missing. So it was a bit of luck to have bought the right one.Mr Pink's Fish & Chips

This evening Jackie drove us both down to Mr Pink’s Fish & Chips shop in Milford on Sea, to buy our takeaway dinner.Fish and chips and pickle fork

We enjoyed cod and chips, pickled onions, and gherkins. So free of grease is this superbly crisp food, that ‘The Great British Take Away’ paper bags in which it is presented are perfectly fit for recycling. Not least is the requirement for pickled onions to be kept crisp. The one on the plate was bought at Mr Pink’s. Those in the jar are Garner’s. In order to retrieve them from their container, we now use the “Auto” silver plated retro pickle fork complete with its original box that Elizabeth bought me for Christmas. If I don’t mention that I was very confused about how to use this very simple implement the first time I tried, I am sure that one of my dear family readers will make the obvious comment.

Revealing The Ancestors

We have a stairway the walls of which we are reserving for photographs of those we call the ancestors. A start was made with the Norwood School for the Sons of Gentlemen featured in ‘One For Rebekah’.

Beside that print hangs a wedding photograph from Jackie’s family. From the clothes worn by the group of family and friends, we estimate the event to have been pictured in the 1920s. Today I spent some time on my iMac refreshing this image that is almost a century old. Instead of a wander around the English countryside, today’s journey guides you through the process of producing as near a pristine photo as is possible for me. I’m sure my professional friend, Alex Schneideman, would make a better job of it.

Almost the longest stage was removing the 8″ x 6″ print from what must be the original very sturdy frame. Small nails had been driven through the hard wood surround into a backing plank thick enough to take them. Clearly this had protected the photograph, but it proved impregnable to my delicate efforts. It being Jackie’s heirloom, she was less nervous about using ‘brute force’, and prised the nails out with a small screwdriver.

Jackie's Green great aunt wedding original version

My original scan shows the customary sepia coloured print that has come down to us. This would once, before the passage of time, have been a crisp black and white.

Jackie's Green great aunt wedding B-W scan

I then adjusted my Epson Perfection V750 PRO scanner setting to convert the colour to black and white.

Jackie's Green great aunt wedding iPhoto version

The next step was to brighten up the image in iPhoto.

Jackie's Green great aunt wedding final crop

Then I cropped out the mount.

Clicking on this last image to enlarge it will expose lots of little white or back blemishes. These are not relevant in the normal sized reproductions I have used in WordPress. Anyone wishing to examine this slice of social history in more detail, or to enlarge the print, would prefer the retouching that I then carried out. The iPhoto facility for this involves, with the use of a mouse, placing a circular motif which can be adjusted according to the size of the area to be treated, and clicking on or dragging it. You need a keen eye and a steady hand. And rather more time than I was prepared to give it, as will be seen by following the suggestion below, thus revealing that my work was not perfect.

Jackie's Green great aunt wedding after retouching

Comparing this final image, similarly enlarged, with the last one will show the final result which I then made into a 10″ x 8″ print. When framed, this will not replace the original, which is a treasure in its antiquity. The two will be hung one above the other.

The bride is Jackie’s paternal great aunt Renee Dove, who was marrying Canon Percy Green of Keystone in Staffordshire (See PSs below). Interestingly, it is the groom’s mother, Jackie’s great grandmother, who holds centre stage. She favours a dress length of her generation, rather than that of the younger women around her, who are not afraid to display their ankles. One of these, second from the right on the front row, is Jackie’s grandmother Vera Rivett, nee Dove. Is she wearing spats? Her outfit is certainly most splendid.

Would today’s bride wear gloves? Or would she, like her mother and the woman on the far left, hold them in her naked hands? Are feather boas the precursors of today’s fascinators? Neither, after all, is a hat, like the wide brimmed ones sported by these ladies.

Fob watch

I do like the gentlemen’s three piece suits, and, had my brother Chris not left me one that sits, in its box that Frances made, on the window sill beside my chair, I would envy the fob watches.

It would certainly be unlikely in 2015 for a fag to be carried into the formal photograph grouping. Hopefully, the smoker in the back row (identified in Adrian’s comment below) flicked his ash out of harm’s way. There are no white spots on the shoulder of the gentleman in front of him.

The great granddaughter of Mrs Dove senior cooked a splendid liver casserole for our dinner tonight. New boiled potatoes, and crisp carrots and cauliflower accompanied this. Dessert was apple crumble and custard. I drank Chateau Saint Pierre Lussac Saint-Emilion 2012, while Jackie chose sparkling water.

 P.S. Becky’s Facebook link comment dates the picture with a little more precision:

  • I would say around 1919. The hats and skirts are still a bit WW1.
  • Rebekah Knight Fashion drawing from 1919

    Rebekah Knight's photo.
    P.P.S: Helen added this: ‘Not in Staffordshire, but Jackie and I have been trying to get that information straight. Lovely and interesting picture. The young lady in the front row next to the man with the child has a familiar look. Wonder who she is.’
    Jackie has noticed that the gentleman next to her grandmother also clutches a cigarette. (Adrian’s post highlighted below establishes that this smoker is Great Great Grandfather Albert Edward Dove). Vera is wearing a wedding ring which suggests either that grandfather Albert Rivett was still involved in World War I (he was at the Battle of The Somme in November 1916), or that he did not attend for some other reason.
    Later, Becky would seem to have cracked the condundrum: ‘Had a little mooch on Find My Past and have found a Percival L Green who was married in 1921 in Grantham and an Irene Dove who was married in the same year in Grantham.’
    She continues with this quotation from Adrian Barlow:  “…by 1895 they [the senior Doves] had moved, south this time, to Denton in Lincolnshire, their home for the rest of their teaching lives. And what a home! They lived in the school house, a large and elegant early Georgian building. Here their children – Albert, Vincent, Irene and Vera – grew up. Albert joined the Navy, while Vincent and Vera became teachers. A local clergyman, the Rev. Percival Green, proposed to Vera, who turned him down, so (rather like Mr Collins in Pride and Prejudice) he proposed to Irene instead. She accepted, and they were married in St. Andrew’s Church.” (Albert, in Victorian times, was a name popular enough for Vera to have one as a father, one as a brother and to marry another)
    ‘You should see the picture that goes with this piece!’, says Becky
    Here it is
    Jackie has now done the Google walk on Denton, just outside Grantham, and has established without a shadow of doubt that her ancestral wedding took place at St. Andrew’s Church, and that the photographer produced the photograph in the garden of the school house, now called Ley’s House, across the road. Those parts of the church that are visible in the old shot are identical to those in the modern one above. The stone wall that can be seen through the gap in the hedge surrounds the church. The twin-trunked tree still towers from the lawn today.
    Adrian Barlow’s blog of 21st January 2012 gives further amazing detail.
    This post now holds the postscript record.